Brother Love’s Literary salvation show, or, so Ya Wannabe A Whyta

00:00 March 18, 2013
By: Phil LaMancusa

I think that inside anyone who reads for pleasure is a nascent writer and critic. Now, stop me if you think that I’m talking through my hat; but if you’re the kind of person that notices misspilled words, a dangling participial phrase or wrong;? punctuation (let alone an imprecise gerund), you are basically a critic. Don’t deny it, that’s what you are. And any criticizer knows that they can do better than the criticizee: ergo, you must write. Bam!

A man enters stage left. He comes in the door of: a saloon, coffee shop, business offi ce, palatial estate. He’s greeted by: a waitress, his wife, his boss, a prostitute who hands him a piece of paper. He reads it quickly and puts his head: on the bar, in his hands, in a spin, in the oven. “Take that, you son of a bitch!” she says. “You thought you could get away with: sleeping with my sister, stealing tips from me, not paying your bill, leaving your underwear on the door handle!” She reaches into: the pocket of her apron, the desk drawer, the cash register, the top of her garter belt, and pulls out: a cigarette, a frying pan, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a gun and…and…and that’s what writers do.

Paint pictures with words. Some do it better than others. Some can even make a living at it.

Some make a buttload of money, while others can never quit their day jobs. Some may even become famous, while others go by the moniker of “good old whatshisname,” as in: “whatever happened to…?” My advice on becoming a writer (that someone else criticizes) is: try it. It’s fun! Pen a poem, jot in a journal, think thoughts for theater, articulate an article, take a stab at a short story, or make notes for your novel. A song. A sonnet.

Punctuate a paragraph, accumulate some alliterations, or better yet, fi nd your way to a writer-friendly confabulation (exempli gratia: the 2013 Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival). Now, every year I tug on your coattail to get your butt to a panel or two, a writers’ workshop, a reading, a performance, and/or Tea With Tennessee on his birthday. Every year I ask you, nay, implore you to go to this festival/ conference/thing and get yourself some culcha. Do you think that I do this year after bloody year

just for the free press pass? I’ll have you know that I am a sensitive, delicate, caring writer and I’m also a passionate, fanatical and devoted admirer of the writer’s art and craft. As well, I am a biatch for all things Tennessee.

This month (in this issue), as usual, I have a separate article on the TWNOLF, and of course you can rely on me to follow that in upcoming columns with: French Quarter Festival, Jazz Festival, the Faulkner Literary Celebration, Lucky Dog Eating Contest, Hurricane Drinking Contest, Lucky Dog/Hurricane Regurgitation Contest and Bungee Gras: all the news that’s fi t to print but not necessarily fi t to read.

Naturally, I’ve had folks tell me, about writing, that they “have nothing to write about”. I tell them that having nothing to write about shouldn’t stop them; perhaps they could get Vanna White to sell them a life. I tell them that “it hasn’t stopped me, it’s ups and downs…I just thinks stuff up and writes it down!” “Listen,” I say, “if Joyce Kilmer can get away with a piece of writing that starts with ‘I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree,’ you can certainly get out your crayon and compose something!” I recommend getting out of the house and following your nose to adventure, mystery, romance and a little harmless mischief. Because, listen, from Seinfeld to Steinbeck, Hemingway to Hallmark, Cole Porter to Carl Perkins, Julia (Child) to Jesus (you know who), it’s all about the communication of ideas, experiences and entertainments given to a world that thirsts for sensory input. From social discourse to simple ditties, discerning literature and dirty limericks to Dear John letters, I say, if you write it, someone will read it. If it’s set to music, someone will sing it. If you pen a poem, someone will praise it. Consider it artistry.

But, as an artist, you owe it to yourself, and the world at large, to practice your art and to support the arts. I know, I know, there aren’t enough hours in the day; there is so very much to do already. Gotta get up, get dressed, go to work, eat, pray, love and have a couple of cocktails with the gang. Dance to the music. Rotate the tires. Pay them bills. Feed them kids. Worm the dog and how the hell did I accumulate so much frigging laundry?

Tote that barge, lift that bale (get a little drunk and you land in jail). Who do you think you’re talking to: Old Man River? No, you’d be preaching to the choir to try to explain to me how hectic a life can be. I’m busier than a set of jumper cables at a family reunion; busier than a one-legged chorus dancer; hell, I’m busier than a busy person! But (here comes the big butt), BUT, I make time—time to keep my life going forward in at least third gear instead of idling in neutral. Naturally, I read. From the classics to the comics, and I keep my senses, my mind and my heart open.

So, what you may get from reading this far, what you can take to the bank, what you have to remind yourself of (often) is: live and learn or live and don’t learn.

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